Teen Actors Walk Red Carpet For Musical Theatre Awards

Highland Park High School junior Charles Harper is interviewed by Bill Melton as he arrives at the Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards in Fair Park on Tuesday. (Staff photo: Allison Slomowitz)

Fair Park’s Music Hall was alive with the sound of music Tuesday night for the second annual High School Musical Theatre Awards. The ceremony, hosted by Dallas Summer Musicals, recognized performers from 49 high schools across North Texas.

The large number of competitors made for a packed house, and the spirit was playful as performers struck poses on a red carpet, showing off their ball gowns and tuxedoes.

“There’s so many great nominees,” said Highland Park High School junior Charles Harper, who was nominated for best supporting actor for his role as Feargal McFerrin in Back to the ’80s. “It’s an honor to even be here.”

Student performers accepted awards in between back flips, high notes, and choreographed numbers. Giddy squeals and heartfelt acceptance speeches had the evening feeling more like the Tony Awards rather than a gathering of teenage actors and classmates.

Highland Park High School had two nominations aside from Harper’s. Travis Warren vied for best featured performer for his role as Mr. Cocker in the decade piece.

The award went to Natalie Pasquinelli, whom Warren performed with at the beginning of the ceremony. Pasquinelli, a senior at Hockaday, played Mrs. Darbus in High School Musical. She said the film adaptation made for big shoes to fill, but she adored her character’s quirky personality.

“I loved putting on a wig every day and being as crazy as I could possibly be,” she said before the show.

This was her first comedic gig and Hockaday’s first time to participate in the ceremony. The honor has Pasquinelli rethinking her future.

“I’ve never really considered doing it for college,” she said. “But now I’m really thinking about it.”

Highland Park senior Elizabeth Hinton accepts a $4,000 scholarship. (Staff photo: Allison Slomowitz)

Apart from the two individual nominations, Highland Park’s performance of Back to the ’80s was nominated for best ensemble/chorus. The award went to McKinney North High School, but the Scots didn’t go home empty handed. Senior Elizabeth Hinton was one of seven who walked away with a $4,000 scholarship for her work with the production.

“I was so surprised,” she squealed. “It means so much to me, and I’m so excited about going to college.”

Hinton will enroll at her top choice, Belmont University, to study musical theater in the fall. She’s been in showbiz for only four years, but it was love at first lyric in her original production of Seussical.

“The fact that I’m getting a scholarship for what I love is just amazing,” she said. “It makes me really happy.”

Parish Episcopal’s Christopher Ponners also won a scholarship, although he doesn’t plan to major in theater in college. He will instead study petroleum engineering this fall at the University of Texas, but that won’t stop him from acting on his own time.

“Theater will always be a part of me,” he said. “This is going to help so much.”

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